On this day…19 October

On 19 October 1904 Joyce and Nora Barnacle spent the night in Laibach.

En route from Zurich to Trieste Joyce and Nora got off the train in Laibach (now Ljubljana in Slovenia), thinking it to be Trieste, and had to spend the night in a park.

Joyce had little luck in his effort to leave Ireland with Nora Barnacle in October 1904. After a hectic time begging and borrowing money from anyone and everyone he could think of in Dublin, Joyce travelled to London. Leaving Nora in a park he went to call on Arthur Symons, perhaps in the hope of getting some money from him, but Symons was not at home, and Joyce and Nora continued their journey to Paris.

Arriving in Paris, Joyce’s funds were almost exhausted and leaving Nora in another park he went to see his former student Joseph Douce, a socialist champagne dealer. Douce was not at home, so Joyce went to visit Dr Joseph Rivière who had helped him in 1902. Rivière was able to give him sixty francs and that night Nora and Joyce left for Zurich where Joyce was expecting to find a post waiting for him at the Berlitz School. There was no post, but the School’s director offered to find something, and a week later Joyce and Nora decamped again, this time for Trieste.

But after a long journey, the train pulled into Laibach (now Ljubljana) which Joyce mistook for Trieste. He and Nora had already left the station and were on their way into the town when he realised his mistake. By then the train had left and another train was not expected until the following morning. According to Herbert Gorman, Joyce and Nora were obliged to spend the night in a nearby park.

To commemorate the night of 19 October 1904 that Joyce and Nora spent in Ljubljana, a plaque by Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar was unveiled at the railway station on Bloomsday 2003.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

McCourt, John: The Years of Bloom – James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920, Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2001.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.